Unite members joined campaigners from Yorkshire and beyond as they collectively took to the streets in Leeds on Saturday (April 1) in defence of the NHS.
With a turnout reportedly exceeding 1,000, the march drew the largest crowds in Leeds in fifteen years, when people gathered to protest the Iraq War.
Among the protestors was student health visitor and Unite member Becky Badon (pictured above) , who studies at the University of Leeds. Her profession faces a tough future as more and more posts are slashed and pay, pensions, terms and conditions are decimated after responsibility for community nursing was transferred from the NHS to cash-strapped local authorities.
Unite branch secretary at the Leeds Teaching Hospital, Wilson Tweed (pictured above), also joined the 1,000-strong protest which started outside the Leeds Art Gallery and wound it’s way around the city.
Children were among those who came out in full force to stand up for the NHS — after all, the future of the health service as it comes under attack from cuts and privatisation is in their hands.
Unite regional officer Terry Cunliffe (pictured above) told UNITElive that the demonstration was the “largest defence of the NHS in Leeds’ history”.
“It was extremely well attended with Unite playing a leading role in its organisation,” he said. “We met a lot of interesting people from across the Yorkshire region and even some people from outside the region came to stand up for the NHS in Leeds.”
Cunliffe explained that the issues affecting the NHS across the country are particularly felt in Yorkshire.
“We’re seeing slashing of members’ terms and conditions, attacks on pay and the downgrading and privatisation of services,” he said. “Closures of A&E and even hospitals are becoming the norm. The NHS is facing the fight of its life and the demonstration in Leeds was an excellent example of people getting together to say enough is enough.”
Pics by Mark Harvey